Ex-Cas­ca­di­an chief Scott My­ers lands at Bio­Clin; Ko­di­ak woos Genen­tech vet Ja­son Ehrlich for CMO role

Scott My­ers

Scott My­ers and Julie East­land, two of the top ex­ecs head­ed out as Cas­ca­di­an Ther­a­peu­tics got ab­sorbed in­to Seat­tle Ge­net­ics, have both set­tled at Bio­Clin Ther­a­peu­tics. Stay­ing in fa­mil­iar roles, My­ers has been named CEO while East­land is CFO and chief busi­ness of­fi­cer. My­ers, who pre­vi­ous­ly held man­age­ment po­si­tions at UCB and J&J be­fore tak­ing the helm of a med­ical de­vice com­pa­ny, suc­ceeds Bio­Clin founder Stephen Lau. The ap­point­ments are an­nounced as the San Le­an­dro, CA-based biotech is gear­ing up for reg­is­tra­tional tri­als of its lead com­pound, vo­fa­tam­ab (B-701).

→ De­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease spe­cial­ist Bi­o­Time $BTX has tapped Bri­an Cul­ley as its new CEO, tak­ing up a role pre­vi­ous­ly shared by Adi Mo­han­ty and Michael West. Cul­ley helmed Mast Ther­a­peu­tics for sev­en years be­fore a failed lead pro­gram dragged it down and left it with lit­tle op­tion oth­er than serv­ing as a shell for Savara’s re­verse merg­er. West will now move on­to the chief ex­ec­u­tive role at AgeX, a Bi­o­Time af­fil­i­ate fo­cused on age-re­lat­ed de­gen­er­a­tive ail­ments.

Vanes­sa King

→ Ex­pe­ri­enced biotech vet Vanes­sa King has tak­en the CEO job at Lon­don-based Viri­on Bio­ther­a­peu­tics, build­ing on a par­ti­cle tech plat­form to fo­cus on res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­ease. King had been CEO at Luc Ther­a­peu­tics and ear­li­er worked the busi­ness de­vel­op­ment side of the ta­ble for de­CODE, be­fore Am­gen bought out the com­pa­ny. Is­abel Na­jera was al­so named as the com­pa­ny’s chief sci­en­tif­ic of­fi­cer.

→ Por­to­la $PT­LA has turned to an ex­pe­ri­enced com­mer­cial ex­ec for its new CEO. Scott Gar­land is join­ing the com­pa­ny from Re­lyp­sa, where he was pres­i­dent. Ear­li­er Gar­land had been an EVP at Ex­elix­is and has a re­sume that in­cludes a stint at Genen­tech.

→ Just days af­ter map­ping out a com­pet­i­tive strat­e­gy for its oph­thal­mol­o­gy drug in a $100 mil­lion IPO fil­ing, Ko­di­ak Sci­ences says it’s brought in Genen­tech vet Ja­son Ehrlich as chief med­ical and de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. As glob­al head of clin­i­cal oph­thal­mol­o­gy at the big biotech, Ehrlich was a lead clin­i­cian for Lu­cen­tis — one of the cur­rent an­ti-VEGF drugs that Ko­di­ak has set out to beat. Al­so new to the com­pa­ny are Al­mas Qudrat, VP of qual­i­ty op­er­a­tions, and Pablo Ve­lazquez-Mar­tin, who will over­see clin­i­cal re­search and trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine.

Wladimir (Vlad) Hogen­huis is the new — and first — chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at Ul­tragenyx $RARE, join­ing a team that’s ea­ger to re­al­ize block­buster am­bi­tions for its grow­ing port­fo­lio of rare dis­ease drugs. A long­time Mer­ck ex­ec, Hogen­huis spent the last six years at Glax­o­SmithK­line in a range of com­mer­cial and op­er­a­tional ca­pac­i­ties. That kind of all-round­ed ex­per­tise, Ul­tragenyx CEO Emil Kakkis says, will serve the com­pa­ny well for “many years to come.”

Jared Gol­lob

→ Fresh off the his­toric ap­provals of Al­ny­lam’s first RNAi drug, long­time staffer Jared Gol­lob has jumped ship to pur­sue an­oth­er “new fron­tier in drug dis­cov­ery” — pro­tein degra­da­tion. As CMO at Cam­bridge, MA-based Kymera, Gol­lob is tasked with ad­vanc­ing prod­uct can­di­dates for can­cer, au­toim­mune and in­flam­ma­to­ry dis­eases iden­ti­fied by the com­pa­ny’s plat­form, all of which are still in the pre­clin­i­cal stage.

Na­tal­ie Sacks is part­ing ways with Aduro Biotech $ADRO af­ter serv­ing as its chief med­ical of­fi­cer for two years. Sacks’ tenure at the can­cer im­munother­a­py com­pa­ny was marked by a rocky clin­i­cal jour­ney with the can­cer vac­cine CRS-207, which lived through a par­tial hold but was ul­ti­mate­ly scrapped for dis­ap­point­ing ef­fi­ca­cy. There’s no im­me­di­ate word on Sacks’ next steps af­ter she of­fi­cial­ly leaves on Oc­to­ber 1.

Melin­ta Ther­a­peu­tics $ML­NT has ap­point­ed Pe­ter Mil­li­gan as the suc­ces­sor to CFO Paul Es­trem, who is re­tir­ing af­ter lead­ing the an­tibi­otics biotech through the re­verse merg­er with Cem­pra and the ac­qui­si­tion of The Med­i­cines Com­pa­ny’s in­fec­tious dis­ease unit. Mil­li­gan joins from gener­ics phar­ma G&W Lab­o­ra­to­ries, where he had the same role.

Ja­cob Chacko has re­cruit­ed a for­mer Igny­ta col­league to his team at Oric Phar­ma. Pratik Mul­tani, who used to be CMO of the Roche-ac­quired biotech, will as­sume the same po­si­tion in Oric and im­me­di­ate be­gin steer­ing lead drug ORIC-101 in­to the clin­ic. “De­spite many new ther­a­pies, re­sis­tance re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­er to im­proved out­comes in most pa­tients with ad­vanced can­cers, and ORIC is at the fore­front of work to ad­dress that chal­lenge, be­gin­ning with the glu­co­cor­ti­coid re­cep­tor an­tag­o­nist and con­tin­u­ing with the rest of the pipeline,” he said in a state­ment.

→ Fol­low­ing a stint as head of biotech in­vest­ment bank­ing at RBC Cap­i­tal Mar­kets, Shane Ko­vacs is back in the front lines of biotech as chief busi­ness and fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer of Blue­Rock Ther­a­peu­tics. This would mark his sec­ond for­ay in­to biotech since leav­ing Cred­it Su­isse in 2013, the first be­ing at PTC Ther­a­peu­tics. Found­ed by Ver­sant Ven­tures and backed by Bay­er, Blue­Rock is de­vel­op­ing cell ther­a­pies for re­gen­er­a­tive use.

Am­gen vet and for­mer Kite Phar­ma ex­ec An­tho­ny Polveri­no has joined Zymeworks $ZYME as CSO and EVP of ear­ly de­vel­op­ment, tak­ing a cen­tral role in dri­ving the R&D strat­e­gy for an am­bi­tious team de­vel­op­ing “mul­ti­func­tion­al ther­a­peu­tics”.

No­var­tis spin­out resTOR­bio $TORC has hired sea­soned com­mer­cial ex­ec Mered­ith Man­ning as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. Hav­ing worked in mar­ket­ing, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and oth­er strate­gic roles across Pfiz­er, Ver­tex, Bax­ter and Shire, she is now ex­pect­ed to pave a way for resTOR­bio’s an­ti-ag­ing ther­a­pies.

Syned­gen has brought in Kaveri Park­er to lead busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of its gly­comics tech plat­form, which aims to treat in­flam­ma­to­ry and in­fec­tious dis­eases by tar­get­ing mu­cos­al in­ter­faces. The new chief busi­ness of­fi­cer was most re­cent­ly pres­i­dent and CEO of a di­ag­nos­tics com­pa­ny called ID Ge­nomics.

→ MPM-backed Har­poon Ther­a­peu­tics has tapped Chris Whit­more, alum­ni of an­oth­er im­muno-on­col­o­gy com­pa­ny called Im­mune De­sign, as VP of fi­nance. Con­cur­rent­ly, Seat­tle Ge­net­ics’ for­mer CMO Jonathan Drach­man has joined their board.

The top 10 block­buster drugs in the late-stage pipeline — Eval­u­ate adds 6 new ther­a­pies to heavy-hit­ter list

Vertex comes in for a substantial amount of criticism for its no-holds-barred tactical approach toward wresting the price it wants for its commercial drugs in Europe. But the flip side of that coin is a highly admired R&D and commercial operation that regularly wins kudos from analysts for their ability to engineer greater cash flow from the breakthrough drugs they create.

Both aspects needed for success in this business are on display in the program backing Vertex’s triple for cystic fibrosis. VX-659/VX-445 + Tezacaftor + Ivacaftor — it’s been whittled down to 445 now — was singled out by Evaluate Pharma as the late-stage therapy most likely to win the crown for drug sales in 5 years, with a projected peak revenue forecast of $4.3 billion.

The latest annual list, which you can see here in their latest world preview, includes a roster of some of the most closely watched development programs in biopharma. And Evaluate has added 6 must-watch experimental drugs to the top 10 as drugs fail or go on to a first approval. With apologies to the list maker, I revamped this to rank the top 10 by projected 2024 sales, instead of Evaluate's net present value rankings.

It's how we roll at Endpoints News.

Here is a quick summary of the rest of the top 10:

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John Chiminski, Catalent CEO - File Photo

'It's a growth play': Catal­ent ac­quires Bris­tol-My­er­s' Eu­ro­pean launch pad, ex­pand­ing glob­al CD­MO ops

Catalent is staying on the growth track.

Just two months after committing $1.2 billion to pick up Paragon and take a deep dive into the sizzling hot gene therapy manufacturing sector, the CDMO is bouncing right back with a deal to buy out Bristol-Myers’ central launchpad for new therapies in Europe, acquiring a complex in Anagni, Italy, southwest of Rome, that will significantly expand its capacity on the continent.

There are no terms being offered, but this is no small deal. The Anagni campus employs some 700 staffers, and Catalent is planning to go right in — once the deal closes late this year — with a blueprint to build up the operations further as they expand on oral solid, biologics, and sterile product manufacturing and packaging.

This is an uncommon deal, Catalent CEO John Chiminski tells me. But it offers a shortcut for rapid growth that cuts years out of developing a green fields project. That’s time Catalent doesn’t have as the industry undergoes unprecedented expansion around the world.

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Arc­turus ex­pands col­lab­o­ra­tion, adding $30M cash; Ku­ra shoots for $100M raise

→  Rare dis­ease play­er Ul­tragenyx $RARE is ex­pand­ing its al­liance with Arc­turus $ARCT, pay­ing $24 mil­lion for eq­ui­ty and an­oth­er $6 mil­lion in an up­front as the two part­ners ex­pand their col­lab­o­ra­tion to in­clude up to 12 tar­gets. “This ex­pand­ed col­lab­o­ra­tion fur­ther so­lid­i­fies our mR­NA plat­form by adding ad­di­tion­al tar­gets and ex­pand­ing our abil­i­ty to po­ten­tial­ly treat more dis­eases,” said Emil Kakkis, the CEO at Ul­tragenyx. “We are pleased with the progress of our on­go­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion. Our most ad­vanced mR­NA pro­gram, UX053 for the treat­ment of Glyco­gen Stor­age Dis­ease Type III, is ex­pect­ed to move in­to the clin­ic next year, and we look for­ward to fur­ther build­ing up­on the ini­tial suc­cess of this part­ner­ship.”

UP­DAT­ED: Chica­go biotech ar­gues blue­bird, Third Rock 'killed' its ri­val, pi­o­neer­ing tha­lassemia gene ther­a­py in law­suit

Blue­bird bio $BLUE chief Nick Leschly court­ed con­tro­ver­sy last week when he re­vealed the com­pa­ny’s be­ta tha­lassemia treat­ment will car­ry a jaw-drop­ping $1.8 mil­lion price tag over a 5-year pe­ri­od in Eu­rope — mak­ing it the plan­et’s sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py be­hind No­var­tis’ $NVS fresh­ly ap­proved spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy ther­a­py, Zol­gens­ma, at $2.1 mil­lion. A Chica­go biotech, mean­while, has been fum­ing at the side­lines. In a law­suit filed ear­li­er this month, Er­rant Gene Ther­a­peu­tics al­leged that blue­bird and ven­ture cap­i­tal group Third Rock un­law­ful­ly prised a vi­ral vec­tor, de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with the Memo­r­i­al Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter (MSK), from its grasp, and thwart­ed the de­vel­op­ment of its sem­i­nal gene ther­a­py.

Neil Woodford. Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Wood­ford braces po­lit­i­cal storm as UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors scru­ti­nize fund sus­pen­sion

The shock of Neil Wood­ford’s de­ci­sion to block with­drawals for his flag­ship fund is still rip­pling through the rest of his port­fo­lio — and be­yond. Un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, UK fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors are now tak­ing a hard look while in­vestors con­tin­ue to flee.

In a re­sponse let­ter to an MP, the Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­i­ty re­vealed that it’s opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to the sus­pen­sion fol­low­ing months of en­gage­ment with Link Fund So­lu­tions, which tech­ni­cal­ly del­e­gat­ed Wood­ford’s firm to man­age its funds.

Gilead baits new al­liance with $45M up­front, div­ing in­to the busy pro­tein degra­da­tion field

Gilead is jump­ing on board the pro­tein degra­da­tion band­wag­on. And they’re turn­ing to a low-pro­file Third Rock start­up for the ex­per­tise. But if you were look­ing for a trans­for­ma­tion­al deal to kick up fresh en­thu­si­asm for Gilead, you’ll have to re­main pa­tient.

This one will have a long way to go be­fore they get in­to the clin­ic.

The big biotech said Wednes­day morn­ing that it is pay­ing $45 mil­lion up­front and re­serv­ing a whop­ping $2.3 bil­lion in biotech bucks if San Fran­cis­co-based Nurix can point the way to new can­cer ther­a­pies, as well as drugs for oth­er, un­spec­i­fied dis­eases.

A new num­ber 1 drug? Keytru­da tapped to top the 10 biggest block­busters on the world stage by 2024

Analysts may be fretting about Keytruda’s longterm prospects as a host of rival therapies elbow their way to the market. But the folks at Evaluate Pharma are confident that last year’s $7 billion earner is headed for glory, tapping it to beat out the current #1 therapy Humira as AbbVie watches that franchise swoon over the next 5 years.

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In­vestor day prep at Mer­ck in­cludes a new strat­e­gy to pick up the pace on M&A — re­port

Mer­ck’s re­cent deals to buy up two bolt-on biotechs — Ti­los and Pelo­ton — weren’t an aber­ra­tion. In­stead, both ac­qui­si­tions mark a new strat­e­gy to beef up its dom­i­nant can­cer drug op­er­a­tions cen­tered on Keytru­da while look­ing to ad­dress grow­ing con­cerns that too many of its eggs are in the one I/O bas­ket for their PD-1 pro­gram. And Mer­ck is go­ing af­ter more small- and mid-sized buy­outs to calm those fears.

Dave Barrett, Brian Chee, Amir Nashat, Amy Schulman. Polaris

Bob Langer's first port of call — Po­laris Part­ners — maps $400M for ninth fund

Health and tech ven­ture group Po­laris Part­ners, which counts Alec­tor, Al­ny­lam and Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine as part of its port­fo­lio, is set­ting up its ninth fund, rough­ly two years af­ter it closed Po­laris VI­II with $435 mil­lion in the bank, sur­pass­ing its tar­get by $35 mil­lion.

The Boston-based firm, in an SEC fil­ing, said it in­tends to raise $400 mil­lion for the fund. Po­laris — which rou­tine­ly backs com­pa­nies mold­ed out of the work done in the lab of pro­lif­ic sci­en­tist Bob Langer of MIT  — typ­i­cal­ly in­vests ear­ly, and sticks around till com­pa­nies are in the green. Like its peers at Flag­ship and Third Rock, Po­laris is all about cham­pi­oning the lo­cal biotech scene with a steady flow of start­up cash.